Potager

Hello....Recently moved to France and really surprised how many folk  grow their own crops of veg & fruit and the like.

It seems like more people grow their own than do not.

This has enthused us!

We do not really speak French much at all so tapping into their knowledge might prove challenging.

We have about 1000 square meters and are told veg used to be grown on it years ago.

We have never done this so it really is at a conceptual stage. We need some tips if anyone can help us with how you begin to design what goes where. Should we make raised beds? Any simple do's and dont's would be very welcome as would some spare seeds if anybody has some they dont want or need.We are in Brittany so the climate is similiar to UK and very wet in winter. We think the local farmer will be able to till the land if need be. We have also bought ba second hand poly tunnel frame and are about to order plastic for it. Any kind people like to offer some advice?

Posts

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 15,273

    ALTHOUGH SOME PEOPLE ON THIS FORUM LIVE IN FRANCE, I DON'T THINK ANY LIVE IN BRITTANY.

    EACH REGION HAS ITS OWN CLIMATE AND SOIL SO MY ADVICE TO YOU WOULD BE "MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO" - FOLLOW WHAT THE LOCALS ARE DOING.

    SECONDLY, AS SOMEONE WHO GREW UP IN A REGION OF ENGLAND WITH AS FIERCE A SENSE OF LOCAL IDENTITY AS BRITTANY HAS, I WISH YOU WELL WITH LEARNING "FRENCH". I USED TO TEACH ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE TO FRENCH AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS AND WAS DUMBFOUNDED TO FIND MYSELF TEACHING A GIRL WHO SPOKE FLUENT YORKSHIRE DIALECT. HOW? SHE EXPLAINED THAT HER FATHER, POOR MAN, HAD GONE TO FIND WORK IN SHEFFIELD AND HAD MET A LOCAL GIRL AND DECIDED THAT SHE WAS THE ONE FOR HIM. THE ONLY TROUBLE WAS THAT HE SPOKE LITTLE ENGLISH AND NO YORKSHIRE. HE LEARNED YORKSHIRE DIALECT BUT NEVER MASTERED THE QUEEN'S ENGLISH. GET YOURSELVES OFF TO A LOCAL LANGUAGE SCHOOL AS FAST AS YOU CAN. DON'T BE EMBARASSED, LANGUAGE SCHOOLS ARE FULL OF LAUGHTER AND FUN AND THERE IS NOBODY JUDGING YOU. YOU MAY EVEN FIND FELLOW GARDENERS THERE.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • I'd second Pansy's advice both with regard to the veg growing and the language.

    The French tend to be keen veg growers and they are always willing to offer help and advice - particularly in a smallish community.

    They do also understand that learning French is something that they can ( and will !! ) help you with.  Just so long as you make the effort to speak their language on a daily basis they will be only too happy to correct you and help you learn - they may have a bit of a laugh when you make a real mistake but will then attempt to explain why they found it funny.  

    You may find a rambling club locally - that's a great way to get to know people and become part of the community.

      

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 17,981

    Find yourselves a copy of the Dr Hessayon Vegetable expert as it explains basics such as crop rotation and describes the sowing and growing conditions for a wide variety of veggies;   Have a look at this thread - http://www.gardenersworld.com/forum/the-potting-shed/gardening-by-the-moon/229026.html started by Biofreak who gardens in Normandy.   The French often follow the lunar calendar because it works for them.

    Go to your local commune (council) and ask about compost bins.  Ours in the Vendée sells good basic wooden flat packs for 30€ each and start composting all your raw kitchen waste and future garden waste;   We bought 3 so we will eventually have one filling, one "cooking" and one ready to spread on our beds;

    Our veggie plot is currently a blank canvas full of weeds and an old chicken shed so we will be strimming up the nettles to go on the compost heap as they are full of nitrogen and then laying out raised beds for each different group of veggies plus permanent beds for things like strawberries, raspberries and other soft fruits.  Raised beds become "no dig" but you add fresh compost and fertilisers according to season and the next crop rotation and leave it for the worms to work in over winter.   

    You can buy seeds very cheaply in most garden centres, plant and animal suppliers or online form the UK if you want something special. 

    Have a look at the A4A website which is mostly veggie growers and has a poster called Tee Gee who has an excellent online almanac of what to do when - http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk/Indexes/index.htm You'll need to adjust timings a bit as he's in Yorkshire so colder and later but he's a mine of info.

    Agree about learning French asap.   The locals here are as helpful as anything and forgive our accents and grammar as long as we make an effort.  After 25 years in Belgium my French is fine but OH worked in English and Flemish so his French can be shocking but they love it.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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